The Science of Algae
Nearly all of the microalgae we feed to the different life stages of oysters in the hatchery is grown using fermentation technology. (We know of no other shellfish hatchery that does this.) Over the last 10 years we developed the technology, built a clean room, and now produce enormous quantities of very high quality microalgae. Compared to the usual photosynthesis process used by most hatcheries, fermentation allows for extremely dense cultures, uses a fraction of the electrical energy, and yields nutritious, lipid rich cells.
We currently are set up to grow just a couple of strains in the clean room, but we grow other strains in a small room using a system of carboys and electric lights. The production from this room is primarily for small cells that we feed to the very smallest, larval oysters. The strains we culture are selected for size, nutritional value for the different states of oyster production, and ease of culture.
The biggest challenge for us, using fermentation technology, was figuring out how to keep the cultures sterile. The system we use to establish and maintain sterility is elaborate, effective, and proprietary. The cultures in our clean room typically run from hatchery startup in November until we shut down in late July or early August.